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Devraj Patnaik (born October 28, 1975) is a Canadian-born music composer, musician, percussionist, and dance choreographer, teacher, and performer.
Devraj Patnaik was born in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, the son of Chitralekha Patnaik. Devraj is the second child of his parents (after his sister Ellora Patnaik), Promod and Chitralekha Patnaik, who were born in the state of Orissa, India, and emigrated to Canada in the 1960s. He made several trips to India with his family in his youth. Devraj's parents soon moved to Burlington, Ontario, where Devraj attended Tom Thompson, and the Rolling Meadows elementary schools, and M.M.Robinson High School. In 1994, he received a scholarship from the Shastri-Indo Canadian Institute at the University of Calgary to study percussion in India for one year under Badya Samrat Sri Umesh Chandra Kar (tabla) and pakhawaj under Guru Sri Banamali Maharana.
Devraj's first and primary dance Gurus were his mother and sister, who began training him as an Odissi dancer from a very young age. He has also received training from such notables as Guru Sri Gangadhar Pradhan, Padmabibhusan Kelucharan Mohapatra, and Padmashri Pankaj Charan Das.
Devraj's initial training began on the tabla in 1983 under a local percussion teacher. For the next ten years, he received training from many people, most notably Guru Sri Banamali Maharana and Guru Sri Gangadhar Pradhan on the pakhawaj, and Badya Samrat Sri Umesh Chandra Kar on the tabla.
Much of his knowledge of Indian Classical music is self-learned. His initial training in Ragas is owed to Sitarist Sri Jyotindra Prasad Mishra and musical genius K.Rama Rao Patra.
Odissi and tabla teacher
Devraj has taught tabla and Odissi dance since the early 1990s. In 1993, he took over as Managing Director of the Chitralekha Dance Academy. He now also teaches vocal, harmonium and the Odissi mardal drum, or pakhawaj.
In 1994, Devraj co-founded Chitralekha Odissi Dance Creations (now Chitralekha Odissi Dance Creations Incorporated or CODC Inc.) with his mother and sister, Chitralekha and Ellora Patnaik. In 1995 they inaugurated the presentation of major Odissi works on a hitherto unprecedented scale in North America, with Glaanisanghaar, or 'the destruction of evil' a dance drama which detailed the ten incarnations of Vishnu in accordance with the Gita Govinda or the twelfth century poet Jayadeva. He starred in major production of Odissi dance each year thereafter, and participated in numerous local and international dance festivals (notably the Can-Asian Dance Festival, the Vancouver International Dance Festival, and the 2000 Odissi Festival) as well as several collaboratie works and plays, notably in the Rasik Arts' production of Girish Karnad's Naga Mandala.
In 2001, CODC Inc. began presenting works which consisted entirely of Devraj's original dance choreography and music composition. These works premiered in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with the assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the Toronto Arts Council, and the Laidlaw Foundation. They included: Panchadeva (2001), his magnum opus Shiva Naba Rasa (2005), and Jai Sri Rama (2006), as well as the four-year epic called the Mahabharata Vira Quadrilogy from the Kurukshetra Chronicles: Bhishma (2003), Drona (2004), Karna (2005), and Arjuna (2006). The sheer volume of his created works makes him the most prolific composer and choreographer of Odissi works in his generation.